First Thursdays

Celebrating Creativity & Community

First Thursdays festivals showcase the diversity of arts and humanities at IU Bloomington and offer a welcoming environment for students and other community members to explore new creative outlets and engage with the work of their peers and faculty members. Previous festivities have included everything from opera signers to breakdancers, stage-fighting to clay-throwing, and much, much more. Each First Thursday is an unique opportunity to experience the wonderful work of artists, performers, and scholars from all across campus and around town.

Join us November 4th as we celebrate the historic inauguration of Pamela Whitten as IU's 19th president. Get to IU Auditorium early to be a part of the momentous ceremony in honor of IU's first female president, then stay for a community celebration featuring the iconic Marching Hundred band, Grammy-Award-Winning bluegrass fiddler Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, and student dance performers Movement Cooperative. 

RSVP for the Inauguration Ceremony


The November First Thursday features energetic performances around the Arts Plaza and on the Main Stage. 


Indiana University’s famed Marching Hundred is the product of a tradition which dates back to the organization of the first band at Indiana in 1896. Each season the Marching Hundred performs live before thousands of fans as well as for national television and radio audiences. The band produces video and audio tapes of its outstanding performances each year.

The Big Ten has long been noted for outstanding marching bands and the Marching Hundred has long led the field in terms of spirit, innovation, and musical quality. Numerous college and high school bands utilize elements of Indiana’s rehearsal procedure and marching style. The Marching Hundred combines marching precision and musical brilliance seldom matched in the conference.

More about Marching Hundred


The world tends to look at accomplishments in the form of accolades and Michael Cleveland, has plenty to his credit, including a 2019 GRAMMY. After picking up the fiddle at age 4, Michael’s musical momentum began to propel him forward towards early success. “When I started taking lessons at age 4,” he remembers, “I told the teacher right up front that I wanted to learn how to play bluegrass and I wanted to play ‘Orange Blossom Special.'" Reluctant as they were, his teachers quickly found reason to his rhyme, helping him progress to the point when, at age 9, Michael was invited to sit in with the legendary Bill Monroe at the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival. Soon after, he brought his virtuosic style to the Grand Ole Opry as a guest of Alison Kraus, and was hand picked for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Bluegrass Youth Allstars before he was 14. His blistering prowess and technical fluency have since marked him as a sought-after musician, leading to performances with Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Tim O’Brien, J.D. Crowe and the New South, Andy Statman, and The Kruger Brothers in recent years. However, it wasn’t until 2006, when Michael formed his own band Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, that he found the right vehicle for his musical vision, and he hasn’t rested since, constantly looking for new ways to push himself and his music forward. 

“He plays fearless and it’s intoxicating to play with him because he makes you play fearless,” says Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill. “He takes no prisoners but he plays with a restraint and a soul. He plays without abandon.” Clearly, the IBMA agrees as he’s their most awarded Fiddle Player of the Year with 12 wins, has won Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year six times, and fronts their 7-Time Instrumental Group of the Year. And, Cleveland is a 2018 Inductee to the National Fiddler Hall of Fame. Together with Flamekeeper members Josh Richards (guitar), Nathan Livers (mandolin), Jasiah Shrode (banjo) and Chris Douglas (bass), Cleveland makes his way around the country performing festivals, clubs, and performing arts centers, delighting audiences, leaving them with jaws dropped in complete amazement.“It’s wicked to see how much music he pulls out of a bow,” continues Vince. “He’s untouchable.” 

More about Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper


Students from the Movement Cooperative created a small, interactive dance to teach to festival attendees. For this collaborative experience, the audience will be able to learn fun, upbeat movement through the movers involved in this student run organization. Come enjoy moving your bodies to some lively tunes!

Movement Cooperative at Indiana University, or MoCo, is an on-campus student organization focused around physical movement and the arts. MoCo aims to create a safe and welcoming environment in which anyone is encouraged to explore dance through creating, learning, and experimenting with movement.

More about MoCo

Second Stage Karaoke

Show off your vocal chops at a special First Thursday second stage dedicated to musical theater karaoke! 


The IU Musical Theatre B.F.A. senior showcase students will be performing songs from the hit musical Spring Awakening during November’s First Thursdays. The winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, told by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater through what Entertainment Weekly called, "the most gorgeous Broadway score this decade," Spring Awakening explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood with a poignancy and passion that is illuminating and unforgettable. The landmark musical is an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality and rock and roll that has exhilarated audiences across the nation like no other musical in years. Performance will be on the Second Stage 4-4:30pm.


Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre takes to the Second Stage to showcase local singing talent! Any and all singers are welcome to choose a vocal selection from our catalog of well-known songs from Broadway and the Silver Screen. Singers will then take to the stage with a piano accompanist and sing their hearts out!

Artists Row

Situated within the IU Auditorium first floor lobby, Artists Row is a space for student and community artists to share and sell their work. Each month's Artists Row features a dozen or more artists working in a variety of different media.

Check Out the November Artists Row Lineup

Festival Booths - IU Arts Plaza

All around the Arts Plaza you'll find dozens of festival booths where you can try your hand at different creativy activities and learn more about the great happenings in the arts and humanities going on across campus this semester.

Did you know that Indiana University’s African American Arts Institute (AAAI) is the only program of its kind since 1974? The AAAI offers all students the chance to study and perform African American aesthetics in music and dance—from Gospel to African dance forms to hip hop and R&B. Enter to win tickets to the AAAI’s famous concert: Potpourri of the Arts in the African American Tradition. A concert like no other, featuring the AAAI’s three ensembles—the African American Dance Company, the African American Choral Ensemble, and the IU Soul Revue—at IU Auditorium on November 14th at 3:00pm. Learn more at

Come meet Theta Nu Xi & AAY to create beaded bracelets while learning about the indigenous peoples who were here before us Hoosiers! As organizations which value multiculturalism, we hope to educate you on the origins of friendship bracelets while we make them. We hope you stop by our booth eager to learn & make a bracelet of your own!

Come join the Archives of Traditional Music (ATM) as we celebrate indigenous music in honor of National Indigenous Heritage Month, and bluegrass, fiddle, and Hoosier music in honor of Main Stage headliner and bluegrass fiddler Michael Cleveland! We’ll provide the recordings and speakers; you just provide yourself and your curiosity! An additional activity will test your knowledge of geographic regions and their instruments, and the history of recorded sound. Stop by our table to listen to some music, play some sorting games, and learn more about the ATM!

Canvas Creative Arts is a platform for up-and-coming artists and writers. Through diverse programming focused on creativity and unique perspectives, Canvas seeks to educate, entertain, and foster an artistic community on campus. For more information about the Canvas Creative Arts Committee, email

Visit the IU Theatre & Dance table to learn about our exciting season with special focus on the upcoming Winter Dance Concert and the musical theatre senior project, Spring Awakening. Musical Theatre students will serenade festival goers with "The Song of Purple Summer" in this angsty rock musical adaptation of the seminal play about the trials and tribulations of growing up.

The Friends of Art Bookshop will have materials for attendees to make seasonal bead bracelets to bedeck themselves with for the fall harvest celebration and the new President's inauguration. We'll also have some selected student designed jewelry pieces for purchase as well.

The Native American Student Association will be presenting Potawatomi language and cultural lessons and activities to First Thursdays attendees.

The Healing Garden at Hilltop is a space dedicated to slowing down, reconnecting with the land, and reconnecting with self. For many of us, the garden has become a place to process disconnections from homeland, expressing our multicultural stories through plants, recipes, and memories. At the November First Thursday, we want to share our project with students, faculty, and staff interested in participating in our activities.

HHart is a unique student and staff collaboration under the Hudson and Holland Scholars Program and the Hutton Honors College that organizes art events for students from all majors. We will be having an origami making station where people can drop by and learn how to make origami stars and other simple origami projects!

Visit the IMU Programs team for some holiday treats! We’ll be promoting all of our upcoming holiday programs like Yule Ball, Light Up the Night, and many more.

Tell us your story about what you are doing to have a more resilient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly life. Learn about what IU is doing to meet environmental challenges and how you can be involved.

Info coming soon.

Each week, Indiana University Cinema will offer a chance to engage with us, whether in the IU Cinema itself, at an outdoor venue, or in our virtual screening room, presenting a mix of programs to include new releases, conversations with filmmaker friends, curated student film programs, and much more. The majority of these will be completely free to experience and many of our virtual events will have interactive Q&A sessions. Stop by IU Cinema’s table to get a taste of these events, ask questions, and hear about Fall 2021 offerings.

Stop by the IU Corps booth to upcycle paper, support sustainability, and to experience the art of Arnold Grummer’s handmade papermaking. Our bi-product, sheets of beautifully creative handmade paper, will then be used for a future volunteer opportunity or act of service within the community.

Some IU departments now include "Land Acknowledgments" on their websites and in printed publications. Why and what do they mean? Learn more about the First Peoples who lived on the land that IU stands on

Swing by the IU Jacobs School of Music table to hear about the celebrations for their 100th year, courses available to non-majors, and how you can reconnect with live performances again! With 1,100+ performances each year and online viewing options, there’s something for everyone at the Jacobs School of Music.

Stop by the Music Industry Creatives booth for some fun music trivia games. Participants with correct answers will be entered into a drawing to win a Landlocked Music gift card.

Muslim Women is a diverse organization comprised of women, men, Muslims and non-Muslims that works for the empowerment of Muslim women and their communities through activism, education, interfaith dialogue, and other community engagements. At First Thursdays we will offer henna and write peoples names in Arabic, and correct stereotypes about Islam/answer any questions people might have about Islam.

Relax with FYE. Make a craft, learn about the relaxing attributes of drinking a cup of tea as you continue to build your Hoosier Experience.

Stop by the Office of International Services booth to learn about International Education Week! Each year, IU hosts dozens of international-themed events surrounding this week, including IU World’s Fare and a photo contest. Local restaurants also help celebrate by providing discounts on certain dishes.

Overseas study is one of the most effective experiences students can have to experience arts and humanities on a global scale, to broaden their intercultural awareness, to learn about a specific country/region, to acquire language skills, and to strengthen a range of personal skills. Start your study abroad journey by stopping by Overseas Study's table for more info and a study abroad photo trivia game - be inspired by all the places Hoosiers can go!

The Master of Arts in Arts Administration (MAAA) Program in the IU O’Neill School prepares students to advance their career as arts leaders. Faculty and partners provide a mixture of practice and research based insights that examine critical topics in arts administration from many perspectives. Focusing on the intersection of management acumen, public value, and practical experience the program provides a strong foundation for students to tackle emerging challenges in the creative ecosystem. Visit us at the First Thursdays Festival to explore arts administration and its role in your cultural experience.

PACE is building a better democracy. We invite you to visit us to engage in activities and approaches that can create a healthy democracy. We have fun activities where you can identify women leaders, learn more about voter registration, and view an exhibit from the National Archives called Rightfully Hers. We recognize leadership in a variety of ways and shine a special light on Women Leaders: Then and Now. We hope to see you! 

Queer Student Union is an organization that helps advocate for and create a safe community for queer students on IU's campus. Stop by our booth to take part in a collaborative pride flag doodle project, test your trivia on international queer rights, and we learn about being queer in the indigenous community.

TEDxIndianaUniversity is a club at IU with a mission of spreading ideas and innovation to the Bloomington community. We are directly affiliated with TED, the non-profit organization that created "TED talks". Each year, we invite speakers from around the world to speak at the Buskirk Chumley in downtown Bloomington. The conference normally has an attendance of around 700, allowing the speakers to greatly impact the Bloomington community though spreading new ideas and visions. Stop by to learn more about the conference and guess the theme! The winner will win free tickets to the conference.

IU is inaugurating a new President today! Come and learn a little bit about IU’s past presidents, try your hand at some festive games for prizes, create your own inauguration speech using phrases from past speeches (or make up your own!) and tell President Whitten how much she’s inspired you to go for your own goals!

A Recipe of Sound 100 Years in the Making

The William and Gayle Cook Music Library serves the world-renowned Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, and The Latin American Music Center has been an impactful part of their global histories. We have worked cooperatively to provide an unparalleled education for thousands, and an unmatched experience for thousands more. Through sound, we can witness the history-making music produced by the university as represented by the collections of the library. Join us for a feast of music celebrating the centennial anniversaries of both the Jacobs School of Music and the William and Gayle Cook Music Library, as well as the 60th birthday of the Latin American Music Center.

Throughout Indiana University's 200 years, women have been groundbreaking researchers, influential administrators, renowned artists and cornerstones of the campus community. In honor of the inauguration of IU’s first female president, meet some of the women who helped build IU.

Humanities Salon - IU Arts Plaza

Visit the Humanities Salon to learn more about cultural studies, foreign languages, and other forms of expression and inquiry that help us make sense of what it means to be human. 

The Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES) will offer resources for attendees who would like to learn more about research on race and ethnicity at IUB, and how CRRES works with other related campus initiatives. CRRES will distribute flyers and other promotional items, as well as artwork produced by one of our staff members. CRRES will also recognize and celebrate Native and Indigenous Heritage and International Education month as part of its research and community-building mission.

We offer a "What is America?" activity (based on the title of our signature undergraduate course, AMST A100 "What is America?"). Visitors can write, draw, describe, dance, or sing their response to the question "What is America?". We will have pencils, colored pencils, and paper. Visitors can also spin our color wheel to win candy or other prizes.

Struggling to think through a hard question that’s important to you? Come to the philosophy booth! Thinking carefully is what we do! We promise no answers, but we will help you clarify your question and your commitments. And you can learn a bit more about what philosophers do in the process! Philosophical clarity: 5 cents. A bargain!

Celebrate the National Teach Portuguese Week with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Join us for games, performances, and souvenirs related to the department and Portuguese-speaking countries. Learn information about Portuguese courses and study abroad programs. Practice your language skills with our instructors!

Stop by our booth for a quiz game and to learn to write your name in an Indic script!

Come join the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities and the IU Libraries Maps Department at First Thursday for a geocaching scavenger hunt around campus! Check in at our booth, go on a hunt for campus landmarks (and prizes), and explore mapping activities with us ahead of GIS Day @ IU 2021!

Each Language Flagship will have cultural items and interactive activities centered around our specific languages. Attendees can also play an interactive game of Kahoots and win candy!

Over the next couple of months, around 7,000 Afghan evacuees will be temporarily relocated to Camp Atterbury in southern Indiana. This booth seeks to educate students, faculty, staff, and community members about the situation in Afghanistan and the ongoing refugee crisis in order to foster a welcoming community towards resettled Afghans. Attendees will have opportunities to engage in conversation with experts about the current situation; learn basic phrases in Pashto and Dari (the official languages of Afghanistan); make greeting cards (in English, Pashto, and/or Dari) to be delivered to refugees at Camp Atterbury; and make donations to support the material needs of Afghan evacuees. This booth is organized by The Association of Central Eurasian Students and Seeking Refuge (a student organization dedicated to educating students about global refugee crises and organizing aid and integration efforts) and is supported by the Hamilton Lugar School.

The Summer Language Workshop provides the opportunity for people to study 29 languages at IU over the summer. We will be hosting cultural games and be giving out individualized buttons for each of the languages represented at our program.

Design Corner - IU Arts Plaza

You can experience the intersection of technology and creativity at the Design Corner and learn about cool projects from IU's top designers. 

Come experience an interactive demonstration of the Brain Computer Interface for STEAM education, designed in collaboration between IU’s Intelligent Systems Engineering (ISE) department, Wonderlab, and the Living Architecture Systems Group (LASG, the artists who created Amatria located at the top of Luddy Hall)! See your thoughts put into action as the brain waves of each participant control the movement and sounds of small robotic devices designed by LASG. With support from the Public Arts & Humanities grant, we are designing a classroom STEAM experience that will engage students in artistic expression, computer science, engineering, and neuroscience. You can test our prototype system, or see it tested on others, and give us feedback on what you learn and how we could improve the design moving forward. At the end of the 2021-2022 academic year, a teacher education workshop will be conducted through Wonderlab, and ISE will be making the finalized kits available to Indiana teachers for use in their middle- and high-school classrooms.

The Center of Excellence for Women & Technology encourages students to gain tech skills and become strong, confident leaders in their fields. Come by our table at First Thursdays to learn more about our Center's initiatives and upcoming events! We will also have our robots for some tech fun!

Join the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center (CNS) in building fascinators, formal headpieces designed by architect Philip Beesley. Trembling with movement, the fascinator echoes the sculpture, Amatria, which is suspended in the fourth floor atrium of Indiana University’s Luddy Hall. Each kit has a pair of mylar fronds that are joined to a tear-drop glass vessel filled with copper sulphate, creating a beautiful contrast of white and silver on blue. If you would like to keep your fascinator, there is a materials cost of $21. Guests can also explore data visually using macroscopes from the Places & Spaces exhibit. Subjects range from how cities smell to food trends to mapping areas where social mobility is highest.

The Luddy School Design and Fabrication Labs are well-apportioned spaces for education and research. In our spaces design processes drive projects where technology meets analog making practices. Laser cutting, 3D printing, and CNC machining operations are integrated with electronics, coding, and materials explorations in fields such as health informatics, human computer interaction, and intelligent systems engineering. At our booth, participants can expect to see past student and faculty projects, and 3D printers in operation.

Community Corner - IU Arts Plaza

Stop by the Community Corner to learn about cool arts and humanities projects happening off-campus and experience Bloomington's creative side.

Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre takes to the Second Stage to showcase local singing talent! Any and all singers are welcome to choose a vocal selection from our catalog of well-known songs from Broadway and the Silver Screen. Singers will then take to the stage with a piano accompanist and sing their hearts out!

Buskirk-Chumley Theater (BCT) is Bloomington's historic community theater best known for its iconic "Indiana" marquee on Kirkwood Ave. Drop by our table to learn more about the many upcoming concerts, movies, and events happening this season. If you feel brave enough to answer a trivia question about the BCT's 99-year history, we'll be giving away free popcorn vouchers for correct answers, or if you sign up for our email list you'll be entered for a chance at free tickets to our Studio Ghibli film series in January!

The Lotus Education & Arts Foundation's mission is to provide opportunities to discover, celebrate, and experience the beauty of the world's cultures through music and the arts. Help Lotus expand upon our Lantern & Luminaria project by making your own Korean lantern. Design provided by Lotus guest artist Shelley Hanmo Qian of JunoniaArts.

Around the Plaza

While the Arts Plaza is hopping on First Thursday, there will be plenty to explore in the buildings around the plaza too. Step inside and explore some of the coolest spaces on the Bloomington campus.

5pm, Auer Hall

Percussion and cello duo, NEW MORSE CODE join composers Christopher Stark and Andy Akiho in an interdisciplinary concert of works that address resilience, sustainability, and scientific innovation. The duo won the grand prize in the 2020 Ariel Avant Impact Performance Competition and are at IU for a residency that includes interdisciplinary conversations and collaborations, workshops, and masterclasses.  More information on New Morse Code’s residency can be found here.

Explore the museum after hours with live music, a talk with Abby Cox, a book discussion on museum-based art therapy, an artside chat with Joel Silver,  student-guided tours, and more!

Live Cello Music & Seven Galleries to explore  | until 7 p.m.

Student-guided Tour: Women Empowerment in Art | A dynamic, innovative student-designed tour | RSVP for 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. | Check in at Welcome Center | This student-designed, student-guided tour offers a dynamic experience that centers on women in art. It engages with women of color in art, intersectionality, feminist issues in art, women in political power, motherhood, misogyny, and marginalization.

Guest Speaker Abby Cox: The Costuming and Construction of Dangerous Liaisons | 5-6 p.m. | second floor, Martin Commons | Join dress historian, collector, and independent scholar Abby Cox for an inquiry into the fantasy and reality of designing and making 18th century costume for the screen and stage.

Art-side Chat: Dürer and the Art of the Early Printed Book | 5:15-6 p.m. | third floor, Moravec Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Gallery

Book Discussion: Museum-based Art Therapy | 6-7 p.m. | third floor, Itter Object Study or Zoom

Explore your way with help from one of our self-guided prompts.  |  5–7 p.m. | Welcome Center   | Choose to explore SOCIAL JUSTICE, explore TOGETHER, engage with CULTURES, or RELAX & REFLECT.  

The Friends of Art Bookshop will also open in the Fine Arts Building near the Grunwald Gallery selling art supplies, textbooks, posters, and student art works for First Thursdays!

The Grunwald Gallery presents the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design Faculty Exhibition, containing artworks created by more than fifty faculty artists. Works in a variety of media from artists in several disciplines will be included, with examples from fashion designers and architects, as well as artists working in textiles, printmaking, ceramics, graphic design, sculpture, digital art, video, photography, painting, metalsmithing, and design. Exhibiting artists include tenured, tenure-track, visiting and emeritus faculty.

Join us in celebrating the reopening of the newly renovated Lilly Library! Currently on exhibit is “The Eye, the Mind, and the Imagination: The Collectors of the Lilly Library,” which celebrate the collectors of rare books and manuscripts whose passions helped build our world-renowned collections. Not only will you see some of our most famous treasures, including the Gutenberg New Testament, Audubon’s Birds of America, and Shakespeare’s First Folio, but you will also see them displayed more beautifully than ever in custom-built cases and refurbished galleries which modernize our spaces while also retaining the classic charm of the library’s sixty-year history. You can also visit the inspirational cycle of murals by artist Ralph Gilbert, new in our Reading Room.

Food Trucks!

The November First Thursday will feature IU's food truck, plus several local favorites along 7th Street.


Be a First Thursdays Hero!

The First Thursdays festivals wouldn't be possible without the hard work and dedication of a small army of student volunteers. Our volunteers are an eclectic group from different academic majors and backgrounds, but they share a common passsion for the arts and humanities and a desire to share the transformative power of creativity with our community. For their service, volunteers receive a free First Thursdays t-shirt, a voucher for free food from the First Thursdays food trucks, and the undying gratitude of the Arts & Humanities Council. 

Sign Up to Volunteer at First Thursdays